Friday, December 16, 2011

Who Is To Blame For Hazing? Hazing At Florida A&M University

Almost a month ago after the Florida Classic (which involves Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman University) a drum major at FAMU dropped dead on a bus. The name of the drum major was Robert Champion and he was only 26 yrs-old. While his parents said he was healthy, there was originally no foul play found at the scene or on his body. However, hours after the police said "No foul play" rumors of the man being hazed to death spread. The rumors eventually turned into allegations, which lead to the band being suspended indefinitely and the band director being fired. All of this occurred without any proof of how 26 yr old Robert Champion died. While the proof was still not there, FAMU managed to become a household name.

From the beginning of the case CNN was looking for their angle on the story. They found it through the parent of a band member. That parent gladly discussed her son's experience of being hazed in the band. They went from the parent's opinion to looking for students willing to discuss their experiences. While victims of hazing would be slow to come out, lawsuits were quickly making their way to the public. 

First the parents of Champion filed a lawsuit against the school for their son's death. Then the band director, Julian White, filed a lawsuit to get his job back. He's a tenured professor, so technically the school was breaking a law by firing him. Up until this point the blame of Champion's death was solely unknown. No one was responsible yet. However, with no proof of how he died the media, his parents, and the school quickly started pointing fingers. 

The parents blamed the school for allowing hazing to go on. The band director starting pointing his finger at the president, James Ammons, because apparently he sent many letters citing problems with hazing. President Ammons pointed the blame at certain students who are band members. The finger pointing led to students being dismissed from the school and then getting quickly reinstated. The blame game also led to 3 students getting arrested after a female band member went forward with her story of abuse. After the students arrest the blame game was quickly aimed back at the president of FAMU. 

Within the last couple days many people have been saying President Ammons should resign or at least step down from his position. Some people think that his efforts toward this case have hurt the school and some think he hasn't done enough to help the school out in this crisis. However, this issue with Ammons has led to someone else being blamed for the hazing problem at the University. 

The new person that many people are seeing responsible for hazing issues is Rick Scott, the governor of Florida. Weeks ago Scott announced he was doing his own investigation into the hazing situation at the school. Whether or not that investigation is working is a mystery. However, Scott recently announced that he thinks the school would be better off if President Ammons was put on suspension. This led to the attention being taken off of President Ammons and being put on Rick Scott. 

Last night after many people heard about Scott's thoughts toward the situation they gathered at his house to protest President Ammons position. The protest led to random babbling from Scott to Scott finally coming up with a plan of who to talk to about Ammons and the hazing problem. So now we're looking at Governor Rick Scott as the guilty person and we're looking at him to come up with a solution. 

But is Rick Scott to blame for a band member finding it fun to beat up on another member? Or is President Ammons to blame because this case has happened under his leadership? Julian White, the band director, says he did everything he could to stop hazing practices. This case is becoming confusing and no one still knows how Robert Champion died. 

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